Gabbar Singh Tax Congress style? Twitter users react to Punjab govt taxing domestic animals

Earlier today, the Congress government in Punjab announced that people in Punjab will have to pay tax for having domestic animals. These taxes were in range of Rs 250 per year for having small animals like dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, etc. and Rs 500 per year for bigger animals like buffaloes, cows, camels, horses, elephants, etc.

Apart from the taxes, the state government also announced that an identification mark or number will be given to each animal and a ‘microchip will be installed’ in the animal, though it’s not clear whether it is to track moments of the animals or to detect any ‘tax evasion’.

The step left Twitter users with deep amusement and some anger too. Not only the tax rule didn’t differentiate whether a domestic animal was pet or part of vocation of a poor family, it also didn’t go down well with animal lovers, especially the dog lovers, who didn’t like the idea of a ‘microchip being installed’. There were a range of reactions to this step, such as:

Some wondered about the categorization of some animals in the tax structure:

Punjab government was bashed for the proposal, which was seem anti-poor and anti-farmer:

Congress as a political party also drew flak, as only yesterday its Vice President Rahul Gandhi mocked GST as “Gabbar Singh Tax”. So what to call this new tax by Punjab government?

And some Twitter users were already thinking too ahead:


Update: Following widespread criticism and ridicule, Punjab government has denied reports about taxing domestic animals.

Jan Dhan Yojana: showing small, but steady impact on our lives

less cash economy

Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2014, just months after assuming office, Jan Dhan Yojana is India’s mission for financial inclusion and last mile connectivity, is finally showing small, but impactful results. According to the website, as on 18th October, 30.49 crore beneficiaries have banked so far with about Rs. 67,316.28 crore balance in their accounts.

In a 2017 working paper, Georgetown University professor Sumit Agarwal and his co-authors studied account activity in 1.5 million PMJDY (Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana) accounts from August 2014 to May 2015. The study revealed that while the usage started off slow, as about 81% of new consumers did not make any deposits in the first six months, once they got aware about financial services, they embraced the banking system. Within one year, the frequency of remittances and deposit and withdrawal transactions gradually reached the same level as a comparable set of accounts opened before the PMJDY. Along with demand, the supply of financial products rose as well.

The authors found an increase in lending in regions where the PMJDY generated new demand for formal credit. The scheme has tapped into the unmet demand for financial services. Contrary to allegations, the spurt in new accounts under PMJDY does not seem to be linked to demonetisation. While the investigations are on regarding the spike in bank accounts, maintenance of stable balances and increase of banking transactions seems to be disproving these allegations.

Not just that, bulk of the RuPay card transactions are through ATMs, while about 25-30 million customers have started transacting via point of sale (PoS) terminals, signifying the advent of e-commerce and digital transactions in rural India, thus catering to the rural and semi-urban brackets. Studies also show that the accounts opened under PMJDY are steadily being used actively, with as many as 70% accounts moving from dormancy to active use. There has also been significant decrease in zero-balance accounts. When the scheme was launched in August 2014, there were about 76.81% zero-balance accounts in September, 2014. This has come down to about 20% of the total accounts.

Surprisingly, not just financial inclusion and stability, PMJDY has also helped villagers in cutting down on alcohol and tobacco. The statistically significant and economically meaningful drop in consumption of intoxicants has been found in the rural areas which have more Jan Dhan Accounts. The report said that better channelising of subsidies could have helped in curbing unproductive expenditure on alcohol and tobacco expenditure in rural India.

Malegaon blast accused alleges that UPA govt tried to frame Yogi Adityanath and Mohan Bhagwat

On September 29, 2008 bomb blasts took place in the Malegaon region of Nashik district of Maharashtra which resulted in 4 deaths and left 80 injured.

Soon Sadhvi Pragya and Lt Col Purohit were arrested in connection with the blast and as a result terms like  “Hindu terror” or “Saffron terror” was popularised after their arrests.

They continued languishing in jails till April and August 2017 respectively when Sadhvi Pragya and Col Purohit were given bail. This long incarceration of Sadhvi Pragya was also called into question by her lawyer who claimed that she should have got bail within half an hour.

Now Malegaon blast is again in the news after it has been reported that one of the blast accused named Sudhakar Chaturvedi alleged on Monday that, Mumbai Anti-terror squad (ATS) had falsely implicated innocent people in the named of “Saffron terror” and had also tried to frame then BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Chaturvedi who was released on bail after 9 years, alleged that the then Congress-NCP government had tried to frame Hindu activists in order to appease Muslim voters. As alleged by him, the investigators questioned him about Yogi and his organisation Hindu Yuva Vahini’s profile. He further alleged that the way they questioned him, it indicated that Yogi was their main target in trying to frame a prominent “saffron-clad” personality in the case.

It was also reported that during interrogation, the investigators also wanted to know Chaturvedi’s connections to the RSS and its chief.

Apart from such sensational claims, Chaturvedi has alleged that the accused were subjected to brutal torture. He also alleged that false evidences of a pistol and RXD were also planted against him by the ATS.

This isn’t the only time questions have been raised against the investigations carried in prominent terror cases.

We had recently reported how a Times Now expose had raised questions regarding a similar modus operandi in the aftermath of the Samjhauta blasts. Initial reports after the blast had suggested that they were the handiwork of the Pakistan based terror group Laskhar-e-Taiba. But later Indian investigative agencies drew a completely different conclusion to blame “saffron terror” outfits for the blast.

The recent media expose had alleged that Pakistani suspects who had allegedly planted the bomb were let off without any proper investigation under the UPA government. This raised questions as to whether these suspects were let off so that the whole “Saffron Terror” theory could be propagated.

Kerala mosque committee orders boycott of family after girl marries a non-Muslim, receives mixed response

In another case of rising interference of Islamic religious institutions in an individual’s private life, it has been reported that a Mosque committee in Kerala’s Malappuram district ordered a social boycott of a family for carrying out an inter-faith marriage.

As per the report, Madarul Islam Sangham the Mahallu committee (administrative committee) of local mosques situated in Thachinganadam in Keezhattur, decided that they would boycott the family of Kunnummal Yusuf as they had agreed to his daughter’s marriage to a non-Muslim.

In order to ensure that, the mosque also issued a special circular which stated that, Kunnummal Yusuf a member of Mahallu had conducted the marriage of their daughter with a non-Muslim. Thus the committee had decided that people need not cooperate with the family neither in mosque-related affairs nor for any other matter. 

Undeterred by such a diktat, the family went ahead with the marriage and the girl married Tiso Thomas on 20th October under the special marriages act. This wedding was also conducted without any religious symbols and religious customs too weren’t followed.

This incident started receiving widespread attention after the girl’s uncle shared the circular and criticised the decision of the Mahallu committee on Facebook. The uncle wrote that the girl had the right to marry anyone of her choice asked the mosque to stop changing the tides of time.

This whole call for boycott seem to have generated mixed results. A day after the marriage, the family had organised a reception where hundreds of people including neighbours turned up and participated enthusiastically. But on the other hand reports claimed that of the 600 odd people invited, none of the Muslim families associated with the Kondiparamba masjid turned up and even a few family members didn’t cooperate with the wedding. The absentees also included the friends of the bride who didn’t attend in fear of the diktat.

As per Najma a CPI(M) area committee member, they are planning to file a police complaint against this boycott call issued by the Mosque committee.

Anti-Modi cop Sanjiv Bhatt gets called out on his bigotry

Sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is best known for spreading hatred, lies and bigotry on Twitter, is back to his old tricks again.

After Indian cricket team lost to New Zealand on 22nd October, Sanjiv Bhatt wrote a post on Facebook and Twitter claiming how this Indian cricket team has not had Muslim cricketers. He implied how the selectors are being biased and not selecting Muslim players.

However, twitterati didn’t fall for his bait, and were quick to point out his bigotry. Many users schooled him and showed him that the sport is about competence and it has nothing to do with religion.

The responses were a tight slap on the bigoted face of Sanjiv Bhatt who tried to divide a sport on communal lines.

GST Intelligence Unit denies making any raids on Actor’s Vishal’s premises

As an offshoot of the ongoing Mersal saga, Actor Vishal had criticized BJP leader H. Raja for advocating piracy by watching the movie online. Raja had claimed that he had seen the so-called offensive dialogues from the movie Mersal via some clips, and had not seen the movie since he did not have “the patience to watch a two-and-a-half hour movie.”

Based on this, Vishal had made the following statement:

“Dear Mr H Raja, as a leader and prominent personality, you are advocating piracy and blatantly agreeing to it”

He also wondered “how a political leader could watch a pirated version of a film (online)” and added that it “sets a bad example”. Vishal also demanded an apology from Raja on the matter, and pressed the government to enact more stringent anti-piracy laws. Raja on his part had clarified that he had not watched the movie and had only seen the clips received on his phone.

Today afternoon, just 1 day after Vishal’s outburst, reports began pouring in that the GST Intelligence Unit had raided Vishal’s premises. This supposed raid was linked to his statements from the earlier day, by media and politicians alike:

Now, the GST Intelligence Unit has issued a press release and squarely denied this raid:

According to the tweets of another reporter, the Jt Director of the GST Intelligence Unit claimed that some operations were going on in Chennai, but they had no connection to Vishal. He stopped short of revealing the actual persons who were raided:

Meanwhile, a Times Now journalist continued to claim that the raids had indeed been on Vishal.

Also, a report in TheNewsMinute claims that the actor’s production house however told media that four officers of the GST Intelligence Agency visited the office in the afternoon, for a routine inspection.  Only time will tell which version is accurate, but it is quite telling how media persons and politicians propagate unverified news to gain a political advantage.

Christian school in Tamil Nadu punishes students for bursting firecrackers during Diwali

A Christian minority matriculation school in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu has become embroiled in controversy after reports have claimed that its students were punished for bursting firecrackers during Diwali.

This incident has resulted in a complaint against the school’s headmaster and physical education teacher, which has been made at the Palakkarai police station, under whose jurisdiction the school falls. The complaint has been made by a certain S. Sethuraman, who has alleged that his son and a few students were punished for the aforementioned reason which caused them mental agony.

According to the report, police sources have claimed that an inquiry took place on Saturday which involved the headmaster and the physical education teacher. The report claimed that the school had during a prayer session, made the students who burst firecrackers bow their heads and seek forgiveness from nature. This incident had happened a day after the festival.

Apart from punishing these students, the school also rewarded students who had not burst these firecrackers, by giving them appreciation certificates. The school in its defence has claimed that it was simply following a circular given by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

This isn’t the only such complaint which has been made against the school. As per the report, another complaint was made against the same school about a physical education teacher beating up a schoolgirl for applying mehendi.

This isn’t the only time schools have taken harsh action against students who have indulged in Hindu rituals.

It was reported in 2015 that a private school in Hyderabad had punished 6 girls for applying mehendi on the occasion of Dussehra. As per the report, the principle had thrown these girls out after the school had reopened.

Similarly a class 2 boy was fined Rs 500 by a Chennai school for applying henna on his hand during a family function. When the teacher noticed faint henna marks on the boy’s hand she immediately sent a note to the student’s parents, asking them to pay the fine.

Schools have also not shied away from taking action against teachers when it comes to such issues.

A 2012 report had claimed that a Chemistry teacher was suspended by a Chennai school after she recited a Hindu prayer to class XII students before they started their examinations. This act reportedly annoyed the teachers so much that they turned off the microphone while the prayer was being recited. As per a student of the school, usually a Christian prayer was sung on such days.

Barkha launches fresh attack on NDTV, spills beans on Radia helping the channel financially

Barkha Dutt

Less than a week back, former NDTV journalist Barkha Dutt had gone public with her grouse against NDTV over censorship and termed the news channel’s stand on free press and free speech as sham. Although Barkha has been distancing herself from NDTV right from the time when CBI had raided Prannoy Roy’s residences, her latest salvo comes after NDTV removed an article that was seen as making baseless accusations against BJP President Amit Shah’s son.

The said article was written by a journalist named Srinivasan Jain of NDTV, and he had tried to take a moral high ground over removal of his article. Instead of accepting that his article could be erroneous or defamatory, Jain went on to preach about good journalism and free speech.

This led Barkha Dutt to hit back and term the free speech crusaders of NDTV as ‘fake liberals’. She cited how NDTV had censored her interview with Chidambaram and another interview done by NDTV journalist Nitin Gokhale, who too has exposed NDTV as an organisation full of nepotism.

Later she even claimed that NDTV honchos were trying to reach out to BJP – in some apparent way to make peace through backdoor negotiations – while feigning to fight against the party at Press Club.

Now she has written yet another Facebook post where she has tried to answer some who found fault with her for attacking NDTV, and at the same time she has revealed some shocking details.

In her Facebook post, Barkha Dutt has claimed that NDTV dropped the story on National Herald – the case, which BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has been arguing as an example of personal corruption of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi through Congress party, for which he is demanding conviction of Gandhis and cancellation of Congress party’s recognition. Barkha wonders why the story was dropped when there were no defamation suits involved.

She further reveals that NDTV had made her delete some parts of her interview with author Taslima Nasreen, who is known to be a vocal critic of Islam and also attacks the ‘liberal and secular’ community of India for their double standards.

She also answers her critics, who presumably asked why she was speaking so late. She claims that she has been speaking for long, even when she was at NDTV. She further claims that her ‘hacked emails’ can prove it. Perhaps Barkha is hinting at NDTV Twitter account hacks that had taken place last year, and the hacker group ‘Legion’ had claimed that they will put all the emails in public, though nothing like that happened.

However, arguably the biggest bomb Barkha drops on NDTV is her mention of Radia tapes controversy. She claims that NDTV had done no favours to her or defended her when she got huge lot of bad PR on social media and even on some mainstream media platforms after her conversation with corporate lobbyist Niira Radia were leaked.

She points out – and rightly so – that the fact that NDTV got loans after Niira Radia talked about helping NDTV founder Prannoy Roy has not been discussed as widely as her conversation with Radia.

For those who don’t know, leaked Radia tapes suggest that on 9th July 2009, Niira Radia had told a journalist named MK Venu – who incidentally is currently associated with the website The Wire, which originally tried to insinuate corruption by Amit Shah’s son – that “We need to support Prannoy”.

You can listen to the conversation below:

Within a couple of weeks of the above purported conversation where Radia tells Venu that Prannoy needs to be supported, NDTV is reported to have received Rs. 350 crore as loan by a company that was a Reliance subsidiary then. Was it mere a coincidence or NDTV was raising money through lobbyists is subject to probe.

Referring to this incident, Barkha wonders that if she could open herself to questions in a one-hour long TV show, why can’t NDTV promoters do the same? This is exactly what she writes:

“Secondly, while we are on the tapes how many people know that Ms Radia speaks on the tapes of helping NDTV owners – the nearly 400 crores loan came thereafter. The Caravan story on NDTV sought to credit / blame me for this loan when I argued that all I spoke to her about was a news story and I gained nothing more than information. Caravan was wrong: I knew nothing about that loan till much much later when news media reported it. And since I have never held a management position or a financial one ever, even while being a full time employee, I was never going to be made part of any such negotiation. So when we speak of the Radia issue, let’s also examine her role in the financial help she speaks of offering NDTV owners. Haven’t heard much debate on that have we? I wonder why.”

It will be interesting to see if Roys or NDTV will now react to this latest salvo by Barkha. And perhaps this also explains why Barkha Dutt was curiously silent when most of the celebrity journalists were screaming in support of NDTV when CBI raided Roys to probe about financial dealings of the company. She suspected some wrongdoings or found something amiss?

Are more skeletons waiting to tumble out of NDTV cupboard?

A year after students gheraoed JNU VC, JNU Teachers’ Association holds kangaroo court against him

JNU communists hold midnight protest, raise slogans demanding bringing back Article 370
Jawarhalal Nehru University in Delhi

In January 2016, IIT Delhi professor M Jagadesh Kumar was appointed as Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Now, less than 2 years later, the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) has ordered a ‘public trial’ or ‘Jan Adalat’ against him.

The apparent disdain in JNU Students Union (JNUSU) General Secretary, Satarupa Chakraborty, is little baffling. What do they really have against him? Let us go through how last 22 months have been for Kumar.

Soon after his appointment, JNU campus erupted with the alleged anti-India slogans and pro Afzal Guru, the terrorist, slogans. The students showing solidarity with terrorist Afzal Guru had made their affiliations very clear by shouting ‘lal salaam‘, the slogan of Communist and Leftist parties. When JNU VC gave permission to police to enter the campus for investigation as per law of the land, teachers and students of JNU had protested the action.

Later that year, Kumar had also alleged that he was manhandled by students and teachers when he allegedly refused to discuss a matter that was not on the agenda. He also accused students and teachers of unruly behaviour and heckling him by forming human chain.

Last year after a student, Najeeb Ahmed, went missing from JNU campus, the students and teachers again resorted to violence as a means to protest. They gheraoed college and admin staff and the Vice Chancellor, Registrar and other senior officers were kept as hostage in the administrative building of the university.

In February this year, the students again misbehaved and illegally confided the Vice Chancellor to the admin block to oppose the implementation of the May 5, 2016 UGC notification. The JNU proctorial inquiry has recently sent notice to 15 students for the said protest which ‘disrupted the normal functioning’ of the university administration.

It is not that the students have misbehaved only against the VC. In January this year, the ugly face of the left was seen at JNU when students belonging to various left outfits forced the university administration to drop the name of a participant because he had ‘a BJP connection’.

In February this year, Professor Makarand R Paranjape, who has been teaching at the university for 16 years, was one of the professors who had to face the irrational protests. He was not allowed to go into his office. He took to Twitter to show how he was stopped from entering his office.

This year, when JNU celebrated Kargil Diwas, the Leftists were visibly unhappy as they boycotted the event and ridiculed the administration for the same.

The same Leftists had also demanded a ban on Baba Ramdev’s entry into the campus in December 2015, and had protested against the screening of the movie Buddha In A Traffic Jam that talks about ‘Urban Naxals’.

And now, JNU Teacher’s Association, which thinks they are above the law, wants to hold a kangaroo court, a ‘public inquiry’ against the VC charging him with “violations of statutory provisions and harassing teachers and students”. The teachers body, exercising its powers under the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA) Constitution, set a three-day deadline for the Vice Chancellor to submit his defence and state if he would appear for hearings in person or through a representative. Earlier, it is also believed that JNUTA pulled their weight behind the Leftist professor Arshad Alam, accused of molestation.

Now, JNUTA is hosting a ‘Jan Adalat’ or a public hearing, against charges filed on the VC, which may be followed by public inquiry.

In an opinion piece written on JNUTA and students, JNU professor Dhananjay Singh, said,

By blackmailing the administration to toe their line or forcing the academic schools to shutdown or invading the administrative block, this small group of teachers and students are going against the very idea of the university they preach — free dialogue and tolerance of differences. When opposition to the administration becomes routine, mechanical and pedestrian, and originates from hatred, malice and prejudice, deliberation gives way to the bigotry of a few obscurantist academicians and students.

He says that the one extreme side is hell bent on on defying all rules and norms, suggesting that this frustration at the weakening of their position is making them disrespectful towards the administration.

In such a scenario, one would wonder if this is the case of personal vendetta against the Vice Chancellor. These incidents have got everyone asking what might be scaring the Leftists thus? It might be them losing their hold over student politics or that perhaps the Vice Chancellor refused to conform to standards set by the leftist students. Unanswered questions remain as JNU, once the bastion of quality education, continues its tailspin.

BSP leader Haji Iqbal asked to seek forgiveness of Allah for performing a Yajna

Former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Member of Legislative Council (MLC), Haji Iqbal seems to have become the latest citizen to have drawn the ire of Islamists.

As per media reports, some Muslim leaders have got miffed after he performed a Yajna at the Glocal University in Uttar Pradesh, which he owns. This Yajna was part of Dhanwantari Puja, which was performed at the university in Saharanpur district on 18th October.

Haji was reportedly present at the ceremony and the trouble started when its video started getting circulated on social media. It turns out that this Yajna was held at the University thanks to a directive by the Modi government, which required all Ayurvedic institutions to hold such a program.

Be that as it may, Haji drew the ire of Mufti Zulfikar, the state President of the All-India Imam Association. As per Zulfikar, it was un-Islamic on part of Haji to organise the Yajna and he should seek forgiveness from Allah. He also claimed that each religion has a certain code which should not be flouted.

Such an adverse reaction by Muslim hardliners when some members for their faith take part in Hindu customs, is nothing new.

We had recently reported that a Deoband Ulema had proclaimed that Muslim women who had performed Aarti of Lord Ram on Diwali eve, had ceased to be Muslims. It was later instructed that they re-read the Kalma to get readmitted into the faith. Now it seems that things have worsened for the women after it has been reported that their marriage too has been deemed annulled as a result of this act.

A similar fate had beckoned Bihar minister Khurshid Alam soon after he had publicly chanted “Jai Shri Ram” in Bihar assembly premises. After the news became popular, a mufti (cleric) named Suhail Ahmed of Imarat-e-Shariya, an influential Islamic organisation in Patna issued a fatwa expelling Alam from the Muslim community. Later Sajid Rashidi, the chief of All India Imam federation had claimed that an individual’s marriage gets annulled after being ostracised from Islam so Alam was advised to retake his wedding vows as soon as he was inducted into the Islamic faith again.

It remains to be seen if the Muslim community and the Indian society takes a stance again such decrees which clearly are providing a blow to the much publicised “composite culture” of the nation.

Why we still need to vote for Modi in 2019

The 2019 general elections are still a while away. But the talk of whom to vote has already started — at least on social media. And many who voted for Narendra Modi and the BJP in 2014 are starting to have doubts. The disappointment of Modi not having met expectations is leading some to get disillusioned and some others to get alarmed. Some have started to ponder about using the “NOTA” option. Few others are talking about staying away from it all completely.

What we do in 2019 must perhaps be the most through decision ever in the history of this country. Here is my take on the choices in front of us.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime that will pass an Education Tribunal Bill and convert our schools and colleges into legal battlegrounds — but because there is still hope that Modi is banking on obtaining a sustained majority from the current transient majority to amend the Constitution to grant equal Educational rights to all citizens.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime that will likely expand the scope of RTE to classes 8 to 12 or even higher — but because there is still hope that Modi will realize the criticality of the Education sector — and sack both — the RTE Act as well his General in charge of Education — and usher in reforms- while there is still time before the “IOI transformation project” is complete.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime that will renew its loot of our country’s vast natural resources and engage in open corruption — but because there is hope that the personal example of corruption-free governance that Modi has set 2014 onwards will trickle down the various layers of governance, resulting in a much less corrupt administration and much improved delivery.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime where International relations is treated with contempt where our foreign minister does not even know which country’s speech he is reading at the UN — but because there is hope that the personal relationship that Modi has built with various International leaders will go further and pay-off in terms of even better ties with various countries on issues such as defence, economic co-operation and cultural tie-ups.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime that will encourage free-loading culture amongst its citizens and pay them for doing nothing, or for doing nothing of value (like digging lake beds and refilling them again) — but because there is hope that the various genuine initiatives that Modi has taken, like MUDRA and Make-in-India, will take off leading to lakhs of new jobs and opportunities being created.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime that will enact the Communal Violence Bill and ensure complete polarization of our society on religious grounds — but because there is hope that Modi will realize that the real need of this nation is uniformity of law & equal treatment of all citizens and repeal communal bodies like the MoMA, NCM and NCMEI.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime that will sit back and smile when its cadres roam on the streets with the severed head of a cow in their hands — but because there is hope that Modi will complete the project of sealing off our porous international borders and end illegal cattle trading so our go-matas can be much more safer.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime that will run a parallel government through the high priests of the Judiciary systematically eliminating every one of our religious and cultural practices — but because there is hope that Modi will win the tug-of-war with the judiciary and restore the sanctity of the top most institutions of legislature, executive and judiciary as also their separation of powers.

We must vote Modi not just because we cannot afford to go back to a regime that will teach our kids the kind heartedness of Aurangzeb or the patriotism of Tipu — but because there is hope that Modi will encourage and strengthen the hands of more like Yogi Adityanath so that we move beyond celebrating laksha-deepotsavs to realizing our dream of a Rama Mandir at Ayodhya.

We must vote Modi not just because Rahul Gandhi is not a choice — but because there is still faith in Narendra Modi!

How Shashi Tharoor helped expose Congress’s hypocrisy on freedom of expression

Freedom of expression in general terms means that every individual has a right to hold opinions without interference. This “interference” in most cases is either imposed by the state or is a form of a legal recourse taken up by aggrieved parties who have been at the receiving end of this “freedom of expression”.

This whole debate on Freedom of expression, was revived again recently after the release of Tamil movie, Mersal. This movie starring a certain Actor named Joseph Vijay instantly became controversial.

As per reports, the BJP was miffed with the movie’s portrayal of schemes like GST, Digital India etc, hence wanted a few scenes removed from the movie. The party also alleged that the movie had got some basic facts wrong about these schemes. Apart from the BJP, the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association had accused the movie of portraying doctors in a bad light.

While the BJP was in the process of trying to discredit the movie, the Congress party decided to take political advantage of the situation by taking the moral high ground when it comes to freedom of expression.

First Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi came out to ask that no interference be made in Mersal. Inspired by that, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took things further and claimed that Congress stands for freedom of expression, whether in power or not:

Tharoor as a result, set himself and the Congress up for a spectacular self goal. Soon, scientist and political commentator Anand Ranganathan came out with an idea to list out the various staggering violations of “freedom of expression” which have taken place while the Congress was in power and in most cases, have been imposed consciously by the Congress itself for various reasons including muzzling criticism of the party, its leaders and its policies. He was later also helped by various twitter users. Here are a few such instances:

  • All began when India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru decided to move the 1st amendment to the Indian constitution in 1951, which as per clause 2 of article 19, imposed “reasonable restrictions” on free speech on grounds like – in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, contempt of court or in relation to incitement of an offence. As pointed out in this article, these grounds are pretty broad and limit this freedom of expression substantially.
  • This lack of freedom of expression was also visible when poet and lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri was arrested and spent a year in jail for writing a poem critical Nehru.
  • The Indira Gandhi government after imposing Emergency in 1975 imposed censorship of press during that period.
  • This emergency period also saw movies like Aandhi getting banned and all the prints of a satirical movie “Kissa Kursi Ka” were burned by Samjay Gandhi’s goons.
  • Even songs of legendary singer Kishore Kumar were banned from Doordarshan and All India Radio as he had refused to perform during a Congress rally.
  • Rajiv Gandhi also had a penchant for brutally muzzling ‘Freedom of Expression. He banned the import of Salman Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses.
  • Rajiv Gandhi also reportedly sought to enact a Postal Bill which would have allowed for the interception and censorship of letters. Later President Zail Singh refused to sign the bill into a law.
  • Such regulations against freedom of expression by the Congress have also been seen in this millennium. In 2012 the UPA government blocked access to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons and also blocked access to an anti-Islam film.
  • Kapil Sibal the former IT minister was also seen openly calling for a ban on “hateful content” generating on websites.
  • This stifling of freedom of expression has also been seen in Congress ruled states. In Karnataka people were arrested for defaming Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, for creating his fake twitter handle and for allegedly posting derogatory comments about Tipu Sultan.
  • Even a out of power Congress party has seen intimidating filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar for making a movie named Indu Sarkar based on Emergency. This intimidation included Congress hooligans disrupting his movie’s screening and he as a result later called out Rahul Gandhi’s hypocrisy on the subject of freedom of expression.

It would be rather amusing, if the Congress Party’s grandstanding wasn’t so tragic. One wonders if Congress fashions its campaigns upon the assumption that the collective IQ of the citizenry is rather low and perhaps their memory extremely short lived. Twitter however, reminded the ‘Grand Old Party’ that before they attempt to educate people with their #KnowYourLegacy campaign, the party and its leaders need to remind themselves of their violent and abysmal tryst with the constitutional principle of freedom of expression.

Congress makes Gandhiji’s langot part of its legacy on Twitter, but it was probably not the best way to do it

Today, even as everyone was coming to terms with facing Monday after the long Diwali weekend, Congress social media cell took it upon themselves to shake everyone out of their Monday blues.

Congress Twitter handle, under part of its #KnowYourLegacy Twitter campaign asked its followers what did Gandhiji keep in his loin cloth (langot).

Earlier, as a part of this campaign, Congress had asked its followers on which animal did former Prime Minister Nehru arrive in Bhutan in 1958. One of the options was a donkey. While correct answer was Yak, most people had voted for Donkey, which reduced Nehru to a joke.

One would expect how Congress would learn from the mistake and make sure that such gaffes do not happen again which could turn India’s leaders into a butt of jokes on Twitter. Internet is a great equaliser and nothing is sacred here. Twitter users mock everyone and everything hence this type of question is probably not the best way to spread information about father of the nation.

Even if we assume that Congress only wanted to spread information and awareness as to why Gandhiji decided to wear only the loin cloth, they’re a month late.

They could have shared it on 22nd September, the 96th anniversary of the day on which he decided to wear just that. He had taken this decision in Madurai back on 22nd September, 1921, so that the poor people of India could identify with him.

It is quite unfortunate that Congress would deliberately try to use Gandhiji and make a joke out of his loin cloth and the millions of poor people he fought for, specially, considering the Congress party has long appropriate Gandhi’s legacy as their own and built their political foundation around him and his name.

Here are some of the jokes this distasteful tweet poll to:

One would be reminded of their childhood when kids would crack ‘Gandhiji ki dhoti mein’ jokes by inserting movie names after the phrase. It is surprising that no one in Congress had heard of the juvenile jokes most children had cracked even before #ReplaceMovieNameWith hashtags started trending on Twitter. But we were kids, and kids do stupid stuff. But not expected of the grand old party of Indian politics.

Soon Gandhiji’s iconic loin cloth, which is a mark of his simplicity, was reduced to a meme by Congress.

It is indeed tragic that a time when Gujarat goes to election in few weeks’ time, Congress chose to mock yet another Gujarati icon.

FactCheck : Did BJP celebrate Tipu Jayanti, as Congress claims?

A few days ago, BJP Union Minister and MP from Karnataka set the cat among the pigeons with his bold stance with respect to celebration of Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary. In a letter written to the chief secretary of Karnataka, Hegde asked that his name should not be added in any of the invitations for the Tipu Jayanti celebrations in the state. Even the Karnataka High Court had observed that Tipu Sultan Jayanti was needless spectacle.

Hegde’s action had the Congress in Karnataka on the back-foot. To counter this,  State Secretary of Mahila Congress Kavitha Reddy tweeted some pictures where she claimed that BJP leaders like Yeddyurappa had also participated in Tipu Jayanti celebrations in the past, and thus now BJP was engaging in double speak:

This tweet was then shared by the Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah:

The same was shared by the Official Karnataka Congress handle as well as some other leaders:

The crux of the claim lies in the 3 pictures shared by Reddy. And a simple google reverse search reveals that none of the pictures relate to any celebration of Tipu Jayanti by BJP.

The 1st picture is of then CM Shettar attending an Iftar party which was organised by BJP Minority Morcha state unit in Bangalore:

The 2nd picture is actually of CM Yeddyurappa at another Iftar party

The third picture is from the same Iftar party as shown in picture 1.

Thus, Congress social media cell used pictures from Iftar parties, to show that BJP leaders had themselves celebrated Tipu Jayanti in the past. The Congress has probably forgotten that this practice of celebrating Tipu Jayanti was started in 2015 by Congress itself. And right from that year, BJP has stayed away from such “celebrations”. Yeddyurappa had even courted arrest to protest against Tipu Jayanti celebration in 2016. Perhaps Congress in Karnataka needs to start its own #KnowYourLegacy campaign on social media.

‘Complete Overhaul’ of GST rates: Adhia claims to have been misquoted by PTI

As businesses in India are grappling with GST and the associated changes, news reports today suggested that Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had acknowledged that the current GST rates structure was a mess and needed a massive change. It was reported that, in an interview to PTI news agency, Adhia had said:

“There is a complete overhauling that is required… it is possible that some items in the same chapter are divided. There is a need for harmonisation of items chapter wise and wherever we find there is a big burden on small and medium businesses and on common man, if we bring them down, there will be a better compliance,”

This news was met with criticism on social media, as political potshots ensued:

This statement was quite a departure from Adhia’s earlier comments on the GST rate structure. Just last week, Adhia was quoted as saying that “tax slabs will remain the same for now”  and “will certainly not be changed” in the near future, at least not for one year. He had also said that “there is a need for rationalisation. Instead of doing a piecemeal reduction here and there, we do need to look at the entire rate of 28 per cent”.

These statements hinted that he was open to moderation and rationalization, a bit of tinkering at best. But today’s PTI interview suggested that he was now looking for “complete overhaul”.

Now, it has been revealed that Adhia has claimed, he was misquoted by PTI.

PTI has already updated its story and now the headline says the following:

Thus, “complete overhaul” has now become “some rejig”. This new statement appears to be in line with what Adhia had said in the last week. Many media houses have now begun updating their posts as well:

If this is indeed PTI’s fault, as it appears, since they have readily changed the story, this would be another addition to the list of fake news spread by them.

Gujarat elections: opposition uniting or breaking up?

This is an exciting time to be in politics and media. Perhaps never before has India seen the youth as politically aware than this generation. This year, a generation of first time voters will vote in an election where they have never seen a non-BJP government in Gujarat. The BJP has been in power in Gujarat for over twenty years, and as a home state of the Prime Minister and BJP President, the election in Gujarat will reflect how they could hope to fare in the 2019 General Elections.

July-August 2017 saw mutiny of Gujarat Congress leaders joining BJP en masse and Rajya Sabha elections where Congress chose to save Ahmed Patel by taking about 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs to Bengaluru even as Gujarat was inundated with one of the worst floods in a decade. Not to mention that during the run up to the exodus, Shankersinh Vaghela, former BJP leader and then Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, kept Gujarat Congress on tenterhooks about which side would he swing eventually left Congress high and dry to start his own political outfit Jan Vikalp.

If that was a sneak peak into the drama upcoming Gujarat elections would be, we can just say that we’ve had a great opening. The initial drama in the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections, first without Narendra Modi as chief ministerial candidate in over a decade, which could have been the most boring in years, got everyone excited.

We have already discussed how this election won’t be a cakewalk for the BJP, considering it is facing a twenty year anti-incumbency here. While 150+ seats in the Assembly of 182 seats seems a bit too far-fetched, one could still expect BJP to win anything between 100-110 seats. Mostly because of lack of credible opposition than anything else.

Congress, which has lost its relevance across the country, will find it really hard to justify the Bengaluru stint of 44 sitting MLAs in middle of floods during Rajya Sabha elections. Jan Vikalp outfit by Shankersinh Vaghela aims to be a third front. Just before 2012 elections, former Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP rebel leader Keshubhai Patel had formed Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) along with other BJP rebel leaders Gordhan Zadafia and Suresh Mehta in an attempt to lead a third front and won 2 seats. Right before 2014 elections, though, in February 2014, GPP merged with the BJP to support the then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

2014 changed everything. From interpersonal friendships to political landscape in India. Everyone is talking about politics. People have opinion. Even those who don’t want to engage in a political dialogue have an opinion. It is very dynamic. This has led to emergence of few new faces. Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor.

Jignesh Mevani is a former journalist who worked with Mukul Sinha, a lawyer and a very vocal Modi critic, before joining Aam Aadmi Party as a spokesperson. He led the ‘Una agitation’ back in 2016 over the issue of atrocities against dalits, after which he quit AAP citing his political affiliations might split the movement. AAP Supremo Arvind Kejriwal, who is known to run his government through Twitter while snakes and monkeys spend their days in Delhi Assembly, has till now only one tweet in support of Mevani.

One wonders about the real reason of why Mevani distanced himself from AAP and if AAP is trying to get him back with their eyes on Gujarat polls. It is still not clear yet whether Mevani will join active politics or not.

Second is Alpesh Thakor, the OBC leader from Gujarat, who after remaining ‘apolitical’ till now, will formally join Congress tomorrow. He has been fighting for the reservation SC, ST and the OBC are entitled to and proper implementation of prohibition law. Of course, his father, Khodabhai Patel was a Congress leader and Alpesh had earlier opposed Hardik Patel’s Patidar agitation and cracks were seen between two ‘friends’. In his attempt to support farmer loan waiver, Thakor had emptied milk cans on the roads as mark of protest. On a personal note, it is extremely insensitive to damage food and water as a mark of protest. Finally, after a lot of drama, Thakor met Rahul Gandhi last evening and decided to formally join Congress.

Last but not the least, the third ‘yuva neta’ Hardik Patel who had a mysterious meteoric rise in 2015 with his agitation demanding reservation for Patidar community and to include them in the OBC quota. What followed was a lot of drama with Hardik being booked for sedition, to being directed to leave Gujarat for 6 months by Gujarat High Court, to his aide writing open letters accusing Hardik of using the agitation as platform to satiate his greed for power and money to finally Hardik joining hands with Shiv Sena to campaign against BJP in the BMC polls held earlier this year. As of now, Patel is now reduced to a troll on Twitter, with little relevance on field. In a surprise move, his aides, Reshma Patel and Varun Patel, joined the BJP yesterday.

With the pressure of polls building up, the political parties are leaving no stone unturned to get that little extra edge, that one last swing of votes to bring a grand climax to an extremely politically exciting year that 2017 has been.

Kardarshians of the Indian intellectual scene

Indian intellectual circles are a weird place. Consider the case of the now forgotten Irom Sharmila, the great crusader against AFSPA, the champion of civil liberties and fundamental rights. Imagine a situation where Irom Sharmila had fought elections in these Delhi circles, or one those Delhi University colleges where civil liberties is cool currency. There is no doubt that she would’ve won the election with a landslide.

But far away from this ‘liberal’ la la land, on ground zero in Manipur, the people had something else to say. One can delve into the constitutional parameters of AFSPA, that would have to be a different piece. The 90 odd people who voted for her maybe knew more about the law. This is not to downplay Irom Sharmila’s struggle, or to disregard the cause of fundamental rights, but the harsh electoral truth. Perhaps AFSPA doesn’t play that much of a role in the life of an average Manipuri after all. This should not be something to judge Irom Sharmila by, but is rather a comment on how out of touch with reality, the intellectual circles in some Universities are.

Imagine as an apolitical student, eager to learn stuff, entering one of these colleges. The great crime that this system does, is that it exposes the young mind to large section of highly biased and one sided opinion, as fact. This happens when the persons ‘cognitive’ abilities are not developed to the extent where one can appreciate what is ‘left’ from the ‘right’. This large body of literature, at the expense of a clear balanced view, is peddled as the ‘neutral’ or mainstream, to further affirm ideology and narrative in key subjects of history, sociology, religious studies, law, etc.

These days, unfortunately even international ‘academic’ opinion, is highly biased giving further affirmation to this cult. In any case the whole bunch of University professors (some exceptions) are avowedly left-leaning inculcating, promoting and instilling those ideas through generations of students in these circles. Before the young kid knows, he is a cog in a hyper engine, seeking affirmation from the meticulously installed facilities of promotion in these circles.

But this comes with access to top writers, movie makers, documentary makers, internships with lawyers or NGOs, ‘research’ work with professors etc. At that stage, any human would automatically react by thinking that when some meaningless ‘activism’ and words are leading to such vast social affirmation, why not.

It thereby becomes ‘cool’ to talk about issues of ‘brahaminical’ hierarchy, Hindu fascism, the ‘oppressive Indian state’, ‘fluid gender identities’, ‘peace and Islam’ and not forget, the lovely Naxals. In India, most ‘highly rated’ University professors are nothing but John Oliveresque, pop culture band of shallow intellectuals.

Let me clarify, I’m not from one of the Delhi University colleges. And sorry to break your bubble, but none of the so called elite colleges of the Delhi circle are nearly as good as they think they are. Not to mention the fact that  English honours from Ramjas or the Irfan Habib’s History honours isn’t taking anyone anywhere especially when all you did through college was read obscure ‘literature’ on LGBT rights or feminist science fiction (yes, that’s a thing).

I remember how difficult (and eventually futile) it was to argue for a student body in my university. We never wished to have competing political parties at our University but to have a single student body, just to voice concerns of the students. Think of that and imagine these student body superstars of Delhi. Put that in perspective with these student body superstars of Delhi. We were no activists, and certainly not the entitled ones replete with paparazzi and celebrity fan following.

The latest group of rock star student ‘leaders’/youth icons to come out of the Delhi intellectual factory are Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid and Gurmeher Kaur. The magic word for their circles and the journalists and writers defending them, is ‘freedom of expression‘. Ostensibly, everyone must have the freedom of expression and speech to say whatever they please even if it means to defends terrorists, even if it spreads secessionist rhetoric and even if it conflates and spreads unwarranted hatred towards alleged ‘manuwadis‘.

This is not a legal article on the contours of Article 19(1)(a), nor is this an article highlighting the importance of a union state as the great Alexander Hamilton did it in The Federalist, this a mirror to the superstar ‘activists’ and to all the students aspiring to be one.

Let me start with Mr. Khalid. He must indeed have an unequivocal right to speech and expression as enshrined in our legal system. I know purists wish for absolute freedom of speech but it is a difficult argument to press, especially when speech may incite people violence against the State or a community. While sedition is indeed a tricky subject to deal with, there is some speech which oscillates very close to its boundaries when it incites violence against the state. Consider this, Hafiz Saeed, the dreaded terrorist, the head of the JuD, has barely carried out any violence by himself personally. But it is his speech and the propagation of his speech that incites people to violence. Hence, his speech comes at a cost, and mostly at the cost of Indian soldiers or civilians. Similarly, if such speech justifies violence against the state, can such speech be considered free? Perhaps it can, maybe it must or the hypocrisy of defending violence is shared by both sides on the subject. But one thing is for clear, free speech cannot exist in isolation and this is without even referring to article 19(2) or the fundamental duties.

The opinion may vary but personally, I think people should be allowed to say what they want. Now contrary to what the law says, let us assume that he does have the said right even if he promotes the disintegration of India. Umar Khalid must have the freedom of speech even if he is a disgraceful citizen. The issue here is not his expression, the issue is when his utterly laughable speechs, ideas and designs are promoted, propagated, institutionalised and instilled amongst the impressionable minds in these circles. The issue is when at the cost of millions of more articulate students across the country, these circles and the media is providing a platform such elements of hate. This freedom is celebrated, when it actually is the most convoluted manifestation of the said freedom. One is indeed entitled to his views and the right to express them just like I must be when I express my less than praiseworthy views on the prophet, the quran and islamic history. I am no expert on the subject, but then Umar isn’t an expert on free speech either.

Next up is Shehla Rashid. Nothing can be said for someone who thinks that ISIS is the same as the concept of Hindu Rashtra. This is actually the product of the lazy intellectualism prevalent in India which terms ‘all religions as the same’ or the new ‘every religion has bad aspects’. Here, the facts that terrorist or the ISIS uses the quranic references and hadiths to justify their actions is brushed aside as merely a matter of ‘interpretation’. Anyone with any sense or knowledge of the subject of the Caliph, or the history of the middle East or the history of Hinduism and of India, cannot ever fathom to say that. Ms. Rashid is from JNU and talks about brahmisnism, hates RSS and ABVP, can speak English, so the Delhi circles adore her. Not to forget her staunch opposition to freedom of speech and freedom of press when it comes to News channels not ready to give them prime time space. I fell off my chair when I read a TOI blog referring to her as ‘exceptionally brilliant’. I mean, get a life.

I’ll leave Gurmeher and Kanhaiya alone. They probably live their life in a John Lennon inspired world of no boundaries with ‘all the people living life in peace…’. Maybe when Gurmeher grows up and realises how the world works she may think otherwise. I still respect her opinion and activism though, even though it is thoroughly misinformed and juvenile. She is trying something noble and suicidal and one has to appreciate it. I just lost respect for her when she played in to the hands of the Lutyens studios as she started losing public opinion. The shift from the India-Pakistan peace initiative to the ‘internet threats to women’ narrative and was cheap and shallow. The random anonymous low life who did threaten her never deserved that kind of attention. I guess that is the last resort, a sort of feminist brahmastra, to be used when one is losing out on the public opinion. Apart from this, her stance on blocking Shefali Vaidya’s speech (alleging that it is hate speech) and hounding teenagers for making memes, is predictable and typical. Mr. Kanaihya is difficult to understand considering he has rarely taken a stand on anything apart from his allegations of rape by Indian army. He speaks in rustic Hindi, so is instantly likeable. I guess these intellectual circles also miss that sometimes and he might be their subaltern clown, the one who keeps them entertained.

Together, this foolish four, form the Kardashians of the Indian intellectual scene. They are close to the media, they are stupid, they have no exceptional talent, they barely have the skills to survive in the real world and no one knows why they are famous.

As hard as it may be for this establishment and the media to believe, a young India, exists outside these posh privileged circles. Students, debates, elections and leaders exist in other colleges as well which deserve perhaps more attention than all encompassing ‘youth agenda’ driven by the old media establishment. This young India doesn’t care what Samosa of Ramjas or the Ganga Dhaba of JNU. And frankly, doesn’t want to know about it. The other India, young and energetic, is not looking of mindless activism for the television, they are looking for opportunity. Opportunities to express themselves. The same opportunity that is so widely, and alarmingly unfairly, is available to the elite only to be squandered on moonshine garbage of equating everything they don’t like with ‘hindutva’ or worse, Indian Imperialism. The other India doesn’t aspire to be amongst these pretentious bunch of students and professors, who perhaps exercise more freedoms than anyone else in the country but still prance, preen and shout about asking for aazadi.

That aside, the other young India, outside these circles, is not free. It is stuck. It is stuck with a loan, with the fear of placements, with the fear of making a career, with the agony of the bad mess food, with the hope of making their parents proud, with hope of marrying their sweetheart and with belief of making the world a better place. This India needs a voice. A voice which doesn’t come from fashionable and entitled bunch of ‘student’ activists from Delhi propped up by nostalgic editors hoping to relive the 70’s which are never coming back.

Congress spokesperson, journalists follow this troll celebrating murder of a journalist

Yesterday, Rajesh Mishra, a journalist working with Dainik Jagran newspaper, was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district by unidentified motor-bike borne assailants. As per media reports, assailants fired several rounds at Mishra at 7 am on Saturday and fled the spot.

Most media persons, who carried out protests and prime time debates, and also quickly blamed Narendra Modi for left-leaning journalist Gauri Lankesh’s death in September this year, maintained radio silence over Mishra’s death because he was right-leaning and associated with the RSS. While most didn’t trend a hashtag, hold protests at Press Club of India or change their profile picture to Mishra’s, few condemned Mishra’s murder.

But most of these champions of ‘protect press’ remaining silent on Mishra’s murder is not as bad as this abusive murderous troll, celebrating his death. Remember how primetime debates were held because one Twitter handle followed by Prime Minister Modi had tweeted disrespectful tweet following Lankesh’s murder?

Screenshot of tweet by murderous troll celebrating murder of a journalist

This abusive troll is followed by various journalists and Congress leaders, many of whom wanted Prime Minister Modi to resign because of a tweet by someone PM follows. Here are some of the followers of the troll who celebrates murders:

National spokesperson, Congress.
Co-founder of so-called fact-checking website ‘altnews
A journalist
Left-leaning mediahouses refer to him as “demonetisation expert”
So-called human rights defender, who works at Asian Human Rights Commission. Also, a JNUite.

There are more people, most of whom are Congress workers, supporters, alleged journalists, and left-leaning propaganda websites, who follow this genocidal maniac troll. Sample these:

Among these sundry followers, alleged journalist Aditya Menon has been known to stoke violence in Kashmir by using fake images of Syria and passing them off as Kashmir violence images. India Resists is a platform which overlooked the sexual harassment by the founder, Kumar Sundaram, and many of his supporters even tried to normalise it since it was ‘brave’ of him to at least accept his ‘mistake’.

These people can’t give excuses that they didn’t know that the user named “Comrade Nambiar” was a genocidal maniac troll before they followed him. This troll was earlier suspended for celebrating death of RSS activists and even CRPF jawans, and even his second account was suspended by Twitter for such hateful tweets.

We had earlier reported how, before suspension of his original account, the troll was followed by Congress leaders and workers like Ajay Maken, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Salman Soz and Shehzad Poonawalla among others. While these have not, yet, followed the genocidal maniac troll for the third time, all others mentioned above are following him despite knowing his history.

Does this mean they endorse his views? Should these people also take moral responsibility for the blood-thirsty tweets by Nambiar? Shouldn’t there be prime-time debates on his tweets celebrating death of a journalist as well? Especially when this is not the first time he has tweeted such venom.

Here are some of his sample tweets from his earlier Twitter accounts:

Perhaps if the slain journalist is not ‘one of their own’, his murder does not even deserve condemnation, let alone protests by the Congress-left ecosystem foot-soldiers.

Rahul Gandhi’s and Congress’ ‘resurgence’ – Bots are not the problem

Representational image

Yesterday, Congress’ umpteenth attempt at relaunching Rahul Gandhi was laid bare by a simple investigation. It was revealed that a spurt in Rahul’s social media metrics, was actually a result of Russian, Kazhak and Indonesian bots fervently pushing up Rahu’s tweets. Congress and Rahul Gandhi were obviously panned for it. But are “bots” the real problem here?

Using bots for re-tweets or fake followers on social media, is one of the oldest tricks in the social media political book. No party is immune from this. A simple check on a popular site, which identifies “fake followers” (the way they define it) on Twitter, shows that across party lines, across countries, politicians and even religious leaders, have a large number of ‘fake’, inactive, or bot accounts following them:

One can always debate the technicalities and methodologies behind such tools and try to argue in a way agreeable to them, but the real issue is much larger.

We had hinted at this a few days back, and since then, it has got even bigger. In the week ending October 11, at least SEVEN (1234567) different mainstream publications were all praise for Congress’s social media “resurgence”, claiming that Congress has now got its act together on social media. This in spite of the fact that the Congress’ social media handle has been goofing up on a regular basis. But the media cheerleaders were not done yet.

Between October 12 and October 20, we again had a barrage of media reports glorifying Rahul Gandhi’s rise on social media. NDTV carried this piece by a journalist named Mihir Sharma:

Hindustan Times, had this piece:

DailyO – an opinion websites from India Today group – too had this piece, based on the same premise:

The parent organisation India Today too carried another article:

NDTV’s Nidhi Razdan even conducted a full prime time debate on this issue:

Did any media house from the above try to investigate this sudden surge in Rahul Gandhi’s social media metrics before running flowery, fawning pieces on him, Congress and their “resurgence”? Did they try to analyse whether the growth was organic or manipulated? Especially since some in the same media, had in 2015, wrongly raised suspicion when Modi received a sudden “boost” on social media. The boost as it turned out, was due to some technical change from Twitter’s side.

Were various media houses fed with this fluff-story to boost Rahul Gandhi’s image? Most stories laid the credit squarely at Divya Spandana’s doorstep, for reinvigorating Congress’ and Rahul’s social media fortune. What role did she have, in pushing such stories out? Can it be a coincidence that at least 12 different stories on the same false premise were published in various media houses across a short span of 14 days or so?

This is the real problem. Most of the legacy media, especially left-leaning one, which keeps harping about “fake news”, played the pliant fool, or the enthused cheerleader, in propagating a myth which was backed by Kazakh bots. The same media, which hangs on to every word by PM Modi or anyone from his team, to be fact-checked to the last detail, readily gulped down this narrative that Rahul Gandhi is back with a bang. The only thing back though is the public’s distrust of legacy media.

How Twitter helped me become an Author

“Who reads Hindi nowadays?”
“Who will read the Hindi poems?”

These weren’t just two sentences, but questions posed to me before I began my journey as an author.

Since childhood, I was fond of writing. I am from a small town of “Muzaffarpur” in Bihar and never thought that my book will be available all over the world and will get so much love. Although I give full credit to my wife and a few friends, who have encouraged me to get my Hindi poetry published, it will be unfair if I won’t talk about the kind of support I received on twitter.

Being quite active on twitter for almost 5 years (Thanks to my smartphone), I have seen it going through many changes. I still remember how it was a fashion to trend any topic with an innovative hashtag. Where it was funny to replace a movie name, troll movie celebrities with their movie dialogues and making them overnight social media sensations. Plus making jokes on ongoing cricket/football matches and of course navigating abusive trolls here and there.

In a race to gain maximum followers on twitter, I started sharing my views on every trending topic and tried to contribute effectively. To contribute to the trending topics, one needs to be quick with their one liners. I soon started reading various books, online journals and also interacted with many subject experts on twitter. Twitter most importantly helped me to develop a sense to quickly say something in a concise and poetic way. I learned how to share my thoughts in 2 liners or in 140 characters.

Another good thing about twitter was that it exposed me to new topics every day. Having a knack for poetry, I also got a chance to share my 2 liners on political frustration, nationalism, festive happiness, romance, movies. These 2 lines were quite effective to reach people and also improved my style of writing.

We need to be focused and disciplined to write a book. It is a common perception that these days people of all age groups, waste lots of time on social media and normally lose their concentration and discipline. Both the factors which are instrumental in helping one become an author.

I personally disagree with an assertion that social media is a waste of one’s time. On social media, one needs to distribute their energy more effectively and efficiently to get the right results. It helps one stay updated about ongoing activities, breaking news, achievements etc.

While using Twitter I got a chance to interact with various Sports, Bollywood, TV, Politics and Media legends and discussed diverse topics of their respective fields. Twitter also helped me connect with many influential and right-minded people. I made many new friends there who were supportive during this journey.

When I completed my book, I approached many publication houses through phone calls and emails. Being a first-time author, it was difficult to get an appointment or response from them. I waited for almost 6 months and then finally I got a chance to get a publisher via twitter.

Eventually, it also became easier to contact a person from any political party or Bollywood.

Twitter gave me a platform where I could share my thoughts, views, contents as well as my witty or poetic liners and get an immediate feedback. Of-course, I have received both positive and negative feedback and it gave me an opportunity to interact both with like minded people and also gave me a chance to understand the views of people who differed in their opinion.

If all this wasn’t enough, my 16,000 twitter followers and friends supported me by either purchasing by book’s copy or by spreading the word on social media. For that I would like to thank each and every one of them, it was not possible without their support.

About my book:

Titled Kuch Woh Pal, it is a collection of 50 poems which capture the essence of life’s unforgettable moments like time spent in college hostels, the night out with friends, the remembrance of love.

You can buy my book at Amazon and Flipkart and relive those moments.

Beyond the bots – decoding Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter resurgence

In the world of politics, perhaps far more than deliverables, it is all about perception and how well a politician and his team can use perception building tools to their advantage. Mr. Rahul Gandhi, as any observer of politics would have realised by now, is not an astute politician. One is reminded of the sing song mocking meted out to Rahul at the hands of Gardiner Harris : “He’s terrible. He’s not a politician”.

But since Congress is more of a family business, it is obvious that they would have tried to brush up Rahul Gandhi’s image, considering they can’t exactly get rid of him.

If you are a daily news consumer, you would have seen some headlines, often with a smiling picture of Divya Spandana who heads the Congress’ Social Media cell. A clutch of such reports have tried to tell the world that the Congress has upped its social media game:

  • Meet @divyaspandana, The Woman Behind Rise of @OfficeOfRG, @INCIndia
  • Divya Spandana interview: How a ‘novice’ resurrected Congress party on social media
  • Meet the woman who is helping Congress play catch-up with Modi on social media
  • The woman who awakened Congress’ sleeping social media cell
  • How Congress is getting its social media groove back
  • Meet the woman behind Congress’s social media team
  • From a moribund and witless entity, the Congress social media presence has changed to ‘energetic and charged up’, we have been told repeatedly.

While those claims will soon find their answer in the upcoming polls, there’s one unmistakable subtext in all the hype and hoopla surrounding the Congress social media ‘surge’. The fingers are all pointing at Divya Spandana.

Rahul Gandhi’s now-a-rally-now-a-vacation style of politics, lack of articulation and general distaste and inability for interaction are common knowledge for anyone who has been observing politics for over a decade. His recent ‘resurgence’ on social media, especially the quips and one-liners from his twitter account, hence, are scarcely believable as his own.

To the regulars on Social Media, the Congress game was pretty obvious, almost instinctively. People are often trolled and abused mercilessly by handles that seem to have been made solely for that purpose.

But a recent trend emerged that even got the Main Stream Media wondering.

Today, ANI Digital published an article that pointed towards ‘bots’ that have been re-tweeting the rather politically casual tweets of Rahul Gandhi. These bots also appear to be of Russian, Kazhak and Indonesian origin.

Accounts which retweeted Rahul’s tweet. Screenshot via @MahaveerM_
One Russian user who has retweeted Rahul’s tweet. Screenshot via @MahaveerM_

What is striking, is the resemblance between the twitter controversy that erupted during the Donald Trump campaign and Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter “resurgence”.

Not too long ago, news surfaced that Rahul Gandhi might be taking a leaf out of Trump’s book and was in talks with Cambridge Analytica, which had earlier helped Donald Trump win elections through a targeted communication campaign. Trump had stirred up a storm in the USA when he had reportedly quoted and thanked a Russian Bot who was positioned as a “Trump Fan”. One wonders, given how prone Mr. Gandhi is to committing faux pass, if the Congress IT Cell runs the risk of having to deal with a similar situation sometime in the future.

Not surprisingly, Cambridge Analytica was a questionable company that also frequently used Russian bots.

Though usage of bots by political parties is not uncommon, it is the constant tom-toming of “Rahul Gandhi’s resurgence” by Media and the Congress party that has now put the spotlight squarely on Rahul.

Promptly enough, exploiting the obvious dissonance between the Rahul we all know and the Rahul behind his twitter account, Divya has made this her moment in the sunshine. Through a media blitz, she has clearly laid claim to all credit for his ‘makeover’. It is almost like she is saying, “We all know he is incapable of something like this. I am behind all this”.

Further, by taking up all credit now, she has set herself up to become the point of blame for any failure and if news of Rahul Gandhi account being retweeted by Russian Bots is true, as it seems to be, perhaps the fall for it should not only be Rahul’s but Divya Spandana’s equally.

In sales and marketing, there is a common truism that a strong product means the positions of sales and marketing people becomes weak. The product, on its own merit, hogs all the credit. However, when a product is weak, it is heavily dependent on those who sell it, thus strengthening their positions.

This famed “resurgence” of Rahul seems to be more of a shot in the foot than a shot in the arm with young ambitious enthusiasts from the Congress party shooting ostensibly big bullets from Rahul’s weary, disinterested shoulders.

However, there seems to be no downside for Divya Spandana. If the Congress succeeds (and after today, it doesn’t seem like it is going to), she will grow as she has already publicly taken credit for the ‘makeover’ through friendly media houses and reporters. If the Congress keeps failing, they may think they need more of her skills. In the worst case, she can simply blame the product.

Rahul’s demeanor on Twitter has been politically flippant with fake news and misrepresentations being propagated without due diligence. The handlers of his account probably feel the news is worthy of being shared considering it has been written by party loyalists. One such incident recently was him sharing false news of renewed aggression in Doklam which was actively proven to be a lie.

Rahul Gandhi was also caught lying recently when he quoted fake news by PTI about CM Yogi Adityanath’s education budget.

Divya Spandana had once reportedly told the Times Of India –

“We were putting out a message, but at some point, it wasn’t travelling. On Twitter, the party was reacting slowly to the big issues of the day. There aren’t as many people on Twitter as on Facebook, but it is the place to set the record straight. The content and messaging now is much freer. People are looking at us differently.”

She has also made such statements about “transforming” Rahul Gandhi:

Further, in an interview with DNA she was asked, “What made you say yes to the social media offer. It was the weakest department in the organisation?

She responded, “That was the best reason too. When you hit rock bottom, there’s no other way but upwards. Challenges are fun and a great way to learn and experience life.”

Firstly, it’s a direct indictment of the earlier system is not the best way to endear oneself within the grand old party. For example, what might Deepender Singh Hooda, the earlier social media cell in-charge draw out of this? Clearly, that he was slow and incompetent and that Divya has come in and made ‘people look at the Congress differently’.

Divya Spandana saw momentary success, but as the conundrum reveals itself, the quality of the product she is endorsing seems to be catching up with her.

It is said that a politician can survive being loved. A politician can also survive being hated. But, a politician can never survive being mocked, consistently. Rahul Gandhi is mocked incessantly for reasons not misplaced. But with these recent revelations of the reason of his “resurgence” on Social Media being Russian bots, the ordeal seems to have just begun for the Dynasty’s Prince.

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar calls out Rahul Gandhi’s hypocrisy

The Goods and Service Tax (GST) references in the movie Mersel has not gone down too well with the BJP and has demanded that the references be deleted. Soon, people came to defend the movie, batting for artistic expression.

Actor Kamal Haasan took to Twitter to show his support for Mersel.

Soon, politicians too started extending their support.

Congress’ national spokesperson, Abhishek Manu Singhvi wondered if India is Nazi Germany.

Soon, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, too, chimed in.

No sooner had he done that, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar showed Rahul Gandhi a mirror about how Congress party workers had demonised and campaigned against his film Indu Sarkar, but Rahul Gandhi chose to remain silent.

The film Indu Sarkar was a fiction based on the 19 month long Emergency imposed by former Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother Indira Gandhi in 1970s. Despite Bhandarkar’s assurances that the film was not a biopic on Gandhi’s life, Congress workers and leaders came down heavily on him.

One Congress worker had announced booty of Rs. 1 lakh to blacken Bhandarkar’s face.

A press conference for the movie was also disrupted.

Earlier, Bhandarkar had also exposed so called journalist Sagarika Ghose’s hypocrisy while she was trying to ‘expose’ Bhandarkar’s on the film Indu Sarkar. No wonder Bhandarkar claimed that had it not been for social media support, he would have gone into depression.

Kashmiri Pandit family attacked in Kashmir for lighting lamps during Diwali

Kashmiri Pandits, the original inhabitants of Kashmir, have time and again been persecuted by the Muslim majority population of the region. Of the 1,60,000 – 1,70,000 Kashmiri Pandits living in the valley, most were forced to flee the region in in 1989-90 as a result of attacks carried out by violent Islamists.

The brutality of their ethnic cleansing can also be gauged by instances like the Nadimarg massacre where masked terrorists had massacred 24 Kashmiri Pandits including women and children. The cleansing was so thorough and ruthless that in 2016 there were just about 2,764 Kashmiri Hindus left in the valley.

Now it seems that the remaining Pandits too are having a harrowing time. As per a video put out by journalist Aditya Raj Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit family living in Kulgam, Kashmir was attacked simply for lighting the customary lamps during Diwali.

In the video, the Pandit is seen claiming that he had lighted up his home during Diwali, this started to cause trouble and he as a result called up the police control room. Authorities later arrived and left after standing guard for 2-4 hours. After they left, a mob started pelting stones and even demolished a boundary wall of their home. He even claimed that the attackers demanded that he go to Jammu to which he firmly responded that he won’t leave the valley.

He also pointed out how he has been living with dignity and couldn’t understand why the attackers were irritated when he lighted a few lamps that the resorted to stone pelting. He as a result of the attack also demanded that protection be given to him, and it remains to be seen what action is taken by the local authorities.

Things aren’t looking very optimistic on that front, as the journalist who shared the news, commented how the Jammu & Kashmir police is silent regarding this matter and questioned why no arrested have been made so far.

Various Twitter users to were taken aback by the incident and chose to react:

UPDATE: Jammu & Kashmir police have registered a case in this regard, though they are treating this altercation as land dispute and not a hate crime.

Deoband Ulema proclaims that Muslim women who performed Lord Ram’s Aarti are no longer Muslims

On Wednesday a positive news was reported from Varanasi that, on the eve of Diwali a group of Muslim women had sang praises of Lord Ram and had even performed his Aarti.

As per Nazneen Ansari the group’s leader, Lord Ram was their ancestor and even if they changed their name and religion, how could they change their ancestor. As per her, singing the names of Lord Ram reflected the generosity of Islam and bridged the gap between Hindus and Muslims.

In the program organised by Muslim Mahila Foundation and Vishal Bharat Sansthan, the Muslim women along with Hindus also recited the Hanuman Chalisa. A similar incident was also reported from Lucknow where too Muslim women performed Lord Ram’s Aarti and sang his Bhajans.

Now it seems that this display of composite culture wasn’t taken too kindly by the Deoband Ulema. As per reports [1][2], the Ulema has proclaimed that the Muslim women who performed lord Ram’s Aarti are no longer Muslims. As per the Ulema, it has been clearly stated in Islam that if any Muslim prays to anyone except Allah, they have forsaken Islam.

As per the Mohatameen Maulana Mufti, Sharif Khan, worshiping anyone except Allah is against Islam. So those Muslim women who have performed Lord Ram’s Aarti in Varanasi, Lucknow or in any place in this world cannot be called Muslims according to Shariat. Now the women have been advised that they admit their mistake and re-read the Kalma for getting readmitted into the faith.

This isn’t the only time Deoband’s Ulema has been in the news for strange reasons. It was recently reported how the Darul Uloom Deoband had issued a fatwa which banned Muslims from posting their or their family’s pictures on social media. This fatwa was prompted by a query which was submitted to the fatwa department of Darul Uloom Deoband.

A Right wing woman was abused on Diwali on Twitter: find out why

There has been a movement of sort, activism as some would say, to make the Internet a safe space for women to express themselves without being abused or threatened.

Last week, some ‘Internet activists’ ran a hashtag ‘#WomenBoycottTwitter’ as a mark of protest against the abuses and threats women receive online. Some even argued that why should women remain silent to protest against being silenced, but the protestors were quickly distracted when a new thing came up. The new thing was son of a Congress leader Moti Irani, who was under CBI scanner for the CWG scam, Khodu Irani, being accused of sexual harassment by number of women and men. This led to more and more women coming up with the stories of their sexual abuse. I believe the Internet is a great platform which allows people to come out and express an opinion, especially when they have been victims of such abusive behaviour.

In a day when Internet activism is considered a job and people are crowdfunding so that you could pay their bills as they take time off from freelancing and spend hours on Twitter asking others to ‘eat shit’ if they disagree with them, you would expect that the champions of such movements are kind themselves and do not indulge in bullying. Of course, that is an ideal situation, because if you disagree with them, they lead an online mob because nothing they do could ever be questioned.

And if someone is out abusing you, the illiterate, uncouth, abusive, Right wing Modi bhakts, they will not only sit back and be mute spectators (after urging everyone to not be a mere bystanders when someone is being abused), but also indulge in abusing you because ‘you deserve it’ for not agreeing with a ‘liberal’.

A Twitter user who goes by the handle @UnsubtleDesi, was trolled and abused mercilessly yesterday, on Diwali, because she did not agree with the idea of wishing “Diwali Mubarak” (in place of Diwali ki shubhkamnayein or Happy Diwali) for Diwali.

Nupur had recently written how a former colleague had claimed Siddharth Varadarajan had suppressed Vadra scam exposé for 7 months.  She had also written how media and politicians spread sensational lies about renewed Chinese aggression at Dolam and a heartfelt tribute to Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Sir Arjan Singh.

A volley of trolling and abuses followed her tweet, from most of those who identified themselves as feminist, and some were even politicians.

Congress supporter quoted her tweet and said that her name, Nupur, has Urdu origins, and hence, her tweet where she objected to the word ‘mubarak’ should be mocked at.

Without going into the details whether her name has Urdu origins or not, that tweet got over 800 retweets and support in trolling from Congress leader Shehzad Poonawalla.

Poonawalla even retweeted a few tweets mocking Nupur, thus encouraging the trolls which quickly resorted to abuses and threats. Others, too encouraged the mob behaviour.

(GSurya is followed by Congress’ official handle on Twitter)

While he got called out on his factual inaccuracy, he still kept the tweet which insinuates that Nupur was arrested for instigating a riot, which she was not.

These troll tweets spread Nupur’s tweet to a wider audience, where the ugly side of Internet came out. She started getting abusive tweets and threats.

These are just some of the instances of abuse received by Nupur. Most of these terrible ones are are not posting here because it is below me to dignify these abuses to a woman by giving them a bigger platform. If you are still very curious, please check mentions of Nupur, she gets this a lot and regularly.

Please note that none of these Internet activists came out in her support to call out the abusers or the influential people leading a mob against her. Some of these even participated in the ‘#MeToo’ campaign, channelising their inner feminist.

Hence, it comes as a surprise that in less than 48 hours of speaking on abuse and harassment, they are ready to lead an online mob against someone just because the victim this time is a Right winger and Modi supporter. How can they be talking about creating safe spaces for women online when they mock, troll and encourage abusers against other women just because ‘oh, she is a bigot (which anyone who disagrees with them becomes, automatically), so she deserves it’.

Where else have we heard someone say that a woman deserves to be sexually abused because of the way she was dressed? How is this any different? So now, political inclination of someone will decide whether someone deserves to be trolled or not? Hypocrisy, much?

BJP changes gears in Bengal, but the road ahead is long and hard

In mid July, I wrote an article on why despite the online buzz, BJP may not do well electorally in Bengal. I wrote extensively on how the Bengal BJP unit is failing to mobilize the cadres and masses, how they lack a strong ferocious unapologetic leader who can take on Mamata Banerjee and uproot the Jihadi existence.

I stressed on one moot point : to win the throne of Bengal you need to get your hands dirty. To win Bengal you need to be unapologetic about your stance. Within a span of 100 days, a lot of significant events have taken place.

From the change in leadership in BJP Bengal unit to Amit Shah’s crucial 2nd visit. From Mukul Roy leaving TMC to the weakening of the Left-Congress alliance, there is a certain positive vibe for Bengal BJP which they must seize and convert into votes.

Let us look through some of the important happenings in this span of time and why I feel BJP central leadership is taking Bengal much more seriously and approaching it with more vigour and intent as compared to earlier.

1. Leadership change – More determined, focused, and most importantly, united. Change in leadership does not only mean, new faces at important posts, but a more united team, with greater degree of cohesion between various leaders and factions.

A) The Dilip Ghosh saga- Dilip Ghosh, the BJP Bengal President has been occupying the post now for 2 years. He took over from Rahul Sinha in December 2015. He had the backing of RSS and central leadership to shape, energize, and revitalize the party. He had the complete power, yet he was somewhat dysfunctional in carrying about the changes.

One of the main reasons is his rivalry with Rahul Sinha. Sinha was more of a polished Bhadralok type of politician with good communication skills and media handling capability, while Ghosh was just the opposite. Dilip Ghosh was more accustomed for booth level and grassroot level politics. This is why Amit Shah and RSS chose him over Sinha. But Sinha faction did not like the radical changes bought about by Dilip Ghosh after his appointment. There was a degree of non co-operation with Ghosh.

This infighting and petty quarrels continued for more than a year, which created an unnecessary diversion. But Amit Shah’s visit as a part of a Padyatra in late April has considerably cooled down the rivalry. There seems to be a much more matured approach. To take on Mamata, you need a channelized, focused attack on her from all fronts. You can’t have two of your big state leaders scoring brownie points over each other.

Now as far as Dilip Ghosh is concerned, he may not tick all the boxes but he is unconventional, outspoken and has the courage to take on Bhadralok communism. He does not care what the ‘intellectuals’ and Bhadraloks of Bengal think about him. He does not care if Bengali media mocks him and calls him uneducated. He does what is necessary for the party.

Take for example his direct attack on Amartya Sen’s duplicity. When Sen was going on ranting against Modi, demonetization as he was forced to leave Nalanda, not one of the BJP state leaders had the conviction or the fire in his/her belly to take the charge and demolish his arguments. But that was not the case with Dilip Ghosh. Without any hesitation he took him down like never before and that was necessary. We Bengalis have developed a habit of accepting gibberish illogical arguments from sophisticated educated Bhadraloks and this is what influences the minds of Urban Bongs. Ghosh knew and did not let the occasion slip just like that.

B) Appointment of Locket Chatterjee as State BJP Mahila Morcha head:

On July 25th, Rupa Ganguly was removed as the BJP Mahila Morcha head and Locket Chatterjee took up the reins. There were various reasons for the removal of Rupa Ganguly, which need to be dealt separately. But Locket Chatterjee’s appointment ushered a new era. It is important to note even though she comes from movies background, this lady is hardworking determined and takes her job & political career seriously.

Unlike other celebs, she is 24×7 politician. Be it protesting against Durga Visarjan ban or attacks on BJP karyakartas, she is the first to reach the spot and register resistance. She has emerged as one of the top leaders of the state unit.

She is also more active on Social media and uses it judiciously to spread her message.

Unlike the previous head, she is spending more time on ground and revamping the booth committees, and less time in TV debates and political mud-slinging.


Even after her loss in Vidhan Sabha election in 2016 from Mayureshwari, she went back and conducted meetings & Sabhas and did not desert her supporters. An important trait, which many leaders lack. Not an easy task specially when you are up against the infamous TMC goon Anubrata Mondal.

2. Amit Shah’s second visit & an aggressive stance : During Shah’s first visit in April, he had focused on reaching the people with the ‘vikas’ mantra, strengthening his party, and other important aspects. But he didn’t address the core issue of safety and security of BJP cadre and supporters. Shah indeed learnt his lessons.

Bengal politics unfortunately is all about violence and muscle power. And you need to protect your cadre and supporters and give them moral backing to stand any chance against the ruling party. Amit Shah was quick to realize this.

He gave a free hand to his state leaders to deal with TMC in their own good way. He realized that to win the throne of Bengal, you need to get your hands dirty. He was more aggressive and direct about Mamata’s politics of violence  appeasement. For example, Shah said:

I am not here to listen how you got beaten up. I know that. I am here to listen to how you have resisted. I am waiting to hear such a story” .

3. Focus on booth level politics & restructuring the organisation: It seems there is finally a plan to revive the organisational strength of the state unit. The selection of leaders indicates that. Efforts are being made to reach the remotest villages. The presence of BJP in the rural belt is negligible, they have to start from zero.

There is caste arithmetic even in Bengal, which many of us overlook particularly in rural Bengal. For example the ‘Matuas’ form a considerable chunk in North and Nadia district (approx 17%). They are looking out for an alternative because of TMC’s appeasement centric politics and radical Islamist interference on their day-to-day activities. Speaking specifically in the context of rural area, Rajbanshis (17.71 per cent), Namasudras (16.33 per cent), Bagdi (14.25 per cent), Pods (11.42 per cent), Bauri (5.72 per cent) make up a considerable amount of the Hindu population on average.

BJP seems to have a plan to take these groups with them. They are trying to use out of favour left leaders and are inducting them into the party. Amit Shah has laid down the road-map to penetrate and create booth committees in about 75,000 booths. Lakshan Seth, previously a left leader is one such example.

Many BJP supporters may have issues with such people being in the party. But this is a political necessity and not a luxury. People need to keep that in mind that BJP needs such leaders with mass appeal and good organisational know-how to stamp its authority.

4. The Mukul Roy saga : Mukul Roy who recently quit TMC may also join the ranks. A leader who has corruption charges, but a leader who was the founder member of TMC. He, along with Subroto Mukhopadhay, was responsible for mobilizing the cadres during Singur-Nandigram movement that saw TMC rise.

Mukul Roy saga needs another article to explain it fully but I will just  say that he may well turn out to be the Himanta Biswa Sarma of Bengal. He may not have that mass appeal, but he knows each booth, each constituency and the demography pattern of each district by heart. Being the right hand man of ‘Didi’ for so many years, he knows how TMC can be nullified and trapped in its own web of appeasement centric politics.

It was Mukul Roy who was responsible for building the TMC as a party and an organization. The TMC students wing, teachers wing, labour unions – they were all set up by him single-handedly. He has literally built the party along with Mamata Banerjee.

To sum it up there has been considerable improvement in these 90-100 days, but a lot has to be done to covert these small steps to vote share and seats. With the Left continuously diminishing and the Congress in hibernation, BJP has become the principal opposition to TMC.

They need to seize the moment, capitalize on the advantages and go forward with more aggression and vigour. Upcoming Panchayat elections will be an indicator of that. All they need is now a central figure around which they can rally and snatch the throne of Bengal.

Hizbul Mujahideen brutally slits throat of a teacher after Rising Kashmir posts his video

Three terrorists Zahid Mir of Ganowpora, Asif Ahmad Pal of Kathokalan and Irfan Abdullah Ganai of Heff village of Shopain were recently killed in a security operation inside house of a teacher, Aijaz Lone. Few days later, he was found dead with his throat slit, a note in Urdu and a mobile phone on him which said, “By the grace of Allah we have begun to take revenge, and we warn everyone that they must repent otherwise they will face the same consequences. We have information about all the informers of army and police and this must be seen as a final warning.”

Lone was mistaken to be an informer by the militants. Shockingly, his identity, whether he was an informer or not, was made public by Rising Kashmir, an English newspaper from Kashmir by posting a video of Lone escaping with help of an Indian soldier during the encounter.

The irresponsible journalism was called out.

While the video now seems to have been removed from all the digital platforms of Rising Kashmir, does that absolve Rising Kashmir from irresponsible journalism which may have led to identifying an individual, who was later killed by terrorists?

This is not the first time media, in its mad rush for exclusives and TRPs, put innocent lives at stake. After the 26/11 Mumbai attack, the Supreme Court had pulled up the media for the live coverage which possibly helped the terrorists to continue the attacks for longer and kill more innocent people. One would expect Rising Kashmir to be little more responsible since they know how mistaken identity could get get innocent people killed.

NDTV is full of nepotism, favouritism – Nitin Gokhale reveals why he left NDTV

NDTV is in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. A few days back, Sreenivasan Jain’s half-baked story on Jay Amit Shah was taken down for “legal vetting” by the lawyers at NDTV. Since it was not back up for over a week, Jain took to social media to express his “anguish”. He called it “deeply unfortunate” and a “distressing aberration”.

While Jain was making some “hard choices”, Barkha Dutt launched two blistering attacks on Jain and NDTV as well. While calling the people at NDTV ‘fake liberals’, Barkha recalled how Mr. Nitin Gokhale’s interview with the outgoing Navy Chief was taken down by NDTV.

Now, Nitin Gokhale has taken to social media to speak about this matter. This is the first time he has spoken about this issue, and what led to him to quit the channel within a month of the incident.

He reveals how all the so-called principles of supporting and protecting everyone’s freedom of expression, went out of the window the moment one of the own NDTV’s insiders was attacked. He reveals that NDTV, while outwardly suave, sophisticated and ‘liberal,’  is actually “full of nepotism, favouritism and clannish, designed to protect and promote PLUs”. He goes on to explain the term PLUs: “People Like Us—public school educated, residents of tony neighbourhoods, children of wealthy and/or people in high positions”.

NDTV’s ex-staff certainly have very interesting insider revelations about how NDTV works. Meanwhile, here is the video of the interview which was taken down by NDTV:

Will Sreenivasan Jain take the moral high ground like Mr Gokhale and quit NDTV because his Jay Amit Shah story was taken down?

Diwali is not a religious festival: how pseudo-seculars are distorting the history

Earlier today, Firstpost published an article by one Saquib Salim, who is a researcher of modern history at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which claims that Indian festivals, both Hindu and Muslim, were celebrated by all communities together, till the British invaded India and divided us and destroyed our ‘secular’ fabric.

He cites work of Nazeer Akbarbadi, an Urdu poet from the overlapping time of decline of Mughal era and rise of British rule in India, and claims that Nazeer wrote “several poems on what could be termed “Hindu festivals” in today’s parlance.” He further states that, “Whatever be the reason, it points towards the times when festivals were more cultural than religious.”

Essentially, it was an article that tried to suggest that all the Hindu festivals should be ‘secularized’ and Hinduness removed from them, something that ‘liberals’ have been trying to do for everything Hindu. Either shame Hindus for celebrating the festivals (by terming them anti-environment, anti-women, anti-equality, etc.) or strip them of Hindu history and ‘secularize’ them by calling them ‘cultural festival’ and not religious ones.

I don’t know how best to call out the absurdity of these statements without coming across as an intolerant “Internet Hindu”.

To start with, to argue that Hindu festivals under Mughal rule represented any ‘pure form’ is illogical if not criminal. It was not composite culture, but appropriation of culture, just like what is being attempted now.

The British weren’t the ones to divide India on religious lines, the Mughals had done it already. The British just took advantage of the already existing divide and exploited us. However, it was the Mughals who looted and plundered India and Hindu temples for years even before the British arrived on our soil and proceed to plunder even the soul. This glorification of Mughal invaders and being in denial about their atrocities on Hindus is sinister.

Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Shree Ram, Lakshman and Sita back to the kingdom in Ayodhya. Considering Shree Ram is a Hindu god, this celebration is as much religious as the Sun rising from the east. And no, Diwali is a Hindu festival not just in “today’s parlance”, but it has been such since centuries. What happened under Mughals was aberration, not what kept on happening for centuries. Perhaps, modern history researchers should try and get the basic facts right.

Meanwhile, pro-Naxal activist and leader of the Leftist organisation CPI(ML), Kavita Krishnan, shared the same on Twitter.

She immediately got called out on her pseudo-secular stand.

Even ministers took potshots at the ridiculousness of these statements by Krishnan and Salim.

Twitter users force Tata, Samsung and Panasonic to delete their ‘preachy’ Diwali tweets

Diwali, the festival of lights, is a special occasion for millions of Hindus who celebrate it with a huge pomp and show. Apart from the festivity, the festival also attracts a form of virtue signalling where various various eminent personalities and brands lament about the alleged pollution hazards the festival causes, while not appearing to do anything worthwhile to curb pollution for the rest of the year.

We had already carried a report that shows how firecrackers burst during Diwali are not the main pollution hazard, especially in the Delhi-NCR. Apart from that, use of firecrackers has progressively been going down as people have shunned them voluntarily, yet, motley of activists keep on shaming people for bursting crackers as if they are the central reason for pollution.

Such condescending and preachy attitude, especially in wake of Supreme Court banning sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR, led many people to feel angered and frustrated. And they felt the same, when some top brands on Twitter decided to do the same:

As clearly seen in the picture, the face mask with “Happy Diwali” written on it, insinuated worsening air quality during the festival. This preachy tweet wasn’t taken too kindly by twitter users who expressed their displeasure:

After Panasonic it was noticed that, Samsung and Tata Power (arguably one of the major ‘pollutants’) had put up such tweets on earlier Diwali. But this Diwali, the sense of being wronged and being preached unnecessarily was strong, so these brands also came under attack:

Such a sustained pressure by the netizens probably made the companies realise that it was creating a negative brand perception and the all three deleted their preachy tweets. Tata Power possibly even got into damage control mode and later put out this tweet, which was not blatantly anti-cracker and preachy:

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